n 2001 the documentary television series How It’s Made debuted on the Science channel in America and since that time, the love of learning more about how the items we use every day are made has grown. Tea Weekly will be exploring just what products are made in our backyard in a new series, Spotlight on Manufacturing.
This week we learn more about DeGeest Steel Works, located on 470th Avenue just east of Tea. What makes this manufacturing business unique is the fact that it is in its third generation as a family owned business.
Vice-president Derek DeGeest said his grandparents started the company in 1976. He, along with his father and company President Scott DeGeest, have seen a lot of expansion and changes in the years that followed.
DeGeest Steel Works has manufactured many things — from small nuts and bolts to large chassis, mower parts, jacks, housings, etc. The parts made right here in Tea have been shipped all around the world.
Keeping track of those varying projects has become easier thanks to new technology.
Derek motions to a wall of file cabinets filled with hundreds of thousands of specifications for different parts that the company makes, now all of that paper has been digitized. Derek said making use of new technology has allowed them to increase production and efficiency.
Technology and automation are a huge part of the DeGeest Steel Works work flow. On the floor working along side the welders and fabricators are robots, with clever names like Voltron and Baymax and Optimus Prime. Derek said two new robots will be coming yet this year, Wall-e and Johnny 5.
Derek said, “Manufacturing has changed a lot. It’s not a dirty job, welding and fabrication is not a consolation prize anymore and the wages reflect that.”
Derek added that with the robots it is a different kind of work, less physically tasking and not as dangerous as it once used to be.
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